When it comes to advancing your brand through digital marketing, you might be wondering: between social media and SEO, which is the better investment? Unless you’re fortunate enough to have an unlimited digital marketing budget at your disposal (and, let’s be honest, not many of us are) then it really comes down to what will bring you the best ROI. While that’s certainly a logical and resourceful way of looking at it, the answer is not as cut and dry as you might think. Social media and SEO have very distinct roles when it comes to advancing your brand through digital marketing—and both are important for different reasons. But before we get into which is more important, we first need to talk about how each method adds value to your online brand.
Why Is Social Media Important?
Having a dedicated social media presence is more or less a prerequisite for businesses in today’s world. More often than not, potential customers are checking your company out on social media before ever making a purchase. They want to know what you’re saying and how people are responding. They want to see validation that people like what you’re doing. It gives your brand a unique authenticity with which a website just can’t compare. And when it comes to marketing your brand, the possibilities are limitless. You can reach people all over the world and customize a perfectly segmented online target market in a very short amount of time. Social media is an instantaneous testament that people are interested in what you have to say (and what you have to sell).
Why Is SEO Important?
Search engine optimization is what’s going to set your company apart from the competition. No matter what industry you’re in, if you’re not ranking, you’re missing out on sales opportunities. If people are searching for what you’re selling, Google is going to give them search results. If your site is buried on page two (or further), that customer isn’t going to find you, but they will find your competition. These leads are ready to buy, they just need Google to point them in the right direction. Having a page rank near the top of a search is a priceless endorsement from Google. It’s cherished real estate. It’s proof that your company knows what it’s doing.
Are SEO and Social Media Equally Important?
Well, no, not exactly. And while it might be easier and make more sense to just split your digital marketing budget right down the middle—50% SEO and 50% social media—that’s probably not going to be your best strategy.
When you take a few steps back and take in the whole picture, it comes down to this: Sometimes SEO is more important, and sometimes social media is more important. The right answer for your business depends on a few different factors.
But remember: Just because one strategy might carry a little more weight at times than the other doesn’t mean you should throw all of your eggs into that basket, so to speak. If you decide that a heavier focus on SEO is best, you still can’t ignore the potential value of social media. And if you opt to go all-in on social media marketing, you’re still going to want to adhere to best SEO practices, at the very least. Deciding which method is right for you and how to implement it to see the highest ROI should be your real focus.
How Do I Know Which Is Right for Me?
To find out which is more important right now, ask yourself the following question as it relates to your product or service: Are people actively searching for what I’m selling?
For instance, if you’re a personal injury lawyer in St. Louis, you can be sure that people are constantly searching for your services via Google. In fact the keyword, “personal injury lawyer St. Louis” had more than 7,000 individual searches in 2019. That’s 7,000 people who are actively seeking out the services you provide.That’s 7,000 leads who are that close to becoming your clients. If you can average $10,000 per client, multiplied by an annual search volume of 7,000 searches, ranking for the keyword “personal injury lawyer St. Louis” has a potential value of $70,000,000.
In instances such as this one, we’re confident in saying that SEO is going to be the right service to pursue for your business. If people are already searching for your product or service, they’re either going to see you… or your competition. With the right SEO strategy, you can make sure it’s not the latter.
If you’re introducing a brand new product or service to the masses, then chances are people are not actively searching for you online (at least, not yet). In this instance, you’re going to want to get your brand in front of lots of people, and quickly. Show them who you are and why your product/service is going to revolutionize the industry as we know it. This is where social media marketing comes in. By segmenting social audiences based on their interests, location, age, gender, education level, relationship status and more, you’re building your customized target market one “like” at a time. Think of it this way: These people absolutely want to become your customers, they just don’t know it yet.
Can SEO and Social Media Work Together?
Yes! And that’s a big reason why you can’t simply pick one without at least acknowledging the other.
Consider the popular “Digital Marketing Funnel” diagram. The funnel represents the process of taking a large audience from “awareness” to “consideration,” followed by “conversion,” “loyalty,” and, finally, “advocacy.” Throughout the process, you’re narrowing your audience from a wide pool of potential customers into a smaller population of devoted customers and brand advocates.
Social media is about finding the right audience for the funnel’s top portion. It’s about casting a wide net and getting your brand in front of potential customers. How many people do you want to reach? 100? 1,000? How about an entire metropolitan area, or state, or even country! Social media makes this possible. And with that many leads out there, who knows what can happen. If you’ve ever clicked on a Facebook ad to learn more about a new product, then you’re living proof that this system works.
SEO is less about casting a wide net and more about bringing in the people who are ready to buy; the “consideration” into “conversion” levels of the funnel, if you will. These are people who know what they’re looking for and are ready to talk business. This is your prime audience. In short, SEO likely won’t put your brand in front of the entire state, but it will eliminate the guesswork and put your brand in front of people who are that much closer to becoming loyal customers.
Furthermore, once your SEO starts taking off and people start finding you via Google searches, you can retarget these potential customers on social media with ads and social actions. Website visitors are already expressing at least some degree of interest, so you’re going to want to follow up and keep your name in front of them via social media. Social media fuels our interest and generates more search traffic. More search traffic leads to better SEO, which leads to more social actions, which leads to (you guessed it) more search traffic!
Do Social Media Followers Help SEO?
Your Google ranking is dependent upon a number of factors, but your social media clout is not one of them. Well, not directly, anyway. While having a million followers on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is a wonderful thing for your brand, it’s not going to give your website any extra pull when it comes to organic search rankings. But that doesn’t mean that those numbers aren’t important when it comes to SEO. In having a huge social media following, it’s safe to say that people are talking about your brand. You can also assume that when you share links to your site, you’re getting traffic and seeing results. And you can be sure that as more and more people share your content, Google is bound to take notice of how many different paths people are taking to get to your site. All of this is great for SEO. So, while the mere presence of a million followers might not make a difference in terms of SEO, realizing and embracing how those million followers are responding to and interacting with your brand most certainly will.
When it comes to deciding how to divide your digital marketing budget between social media and SEO, there are a lot of factors to consider and it’s not always as simple as a 50/50 split. Remember that both methods play distinct, yet intertwining roles in growing your business, bringing in customers and driving sales.